10 January 2018 is a significant day for children’s rights in Scotland as key parts of the Education (Scotland) Act 2016 come into force.
As of this date the rights of children aged 12 – 15 have been extended to give them many of the same rights as their parents and carers and young people over 16 under additional support for learning legislation.
The Scottish Government’s intention in delivering this Act is to empower children between the age of 12 and 15 to ensure they are able to influence decisions about their education and support including the identification, planning and review of their needs.
The Scottish Government hope these new rights will be particularly helpful to children whose parents are not always able to act on their behalf (such as looked after children and young carers).
Once children reach their 12th birthday they will have the right to:
- ask their school or local authority to find out if they need extra support
- have a say in plans and decisions made about the support they get
- advocacy at meetings about their support needs to help them share their views, questions some plans or make an appeal about certain issues if they are unhappy with the support provided
- be more involved in resolving disagreements about their support
Safeguards have been put in place to protect children who do not have capacity to make their own decisions or where making use of their rights would have a negative impact on their wellbeing.
The Scottish Government have funded a new children’s service called My Rights My Say to ensure children know about and understand their rights and are able to access advocacy and legal representation where needed when using their rights.
Enquire sees the extension of children’s rights as a positive move. Sally Cavers, Enquire Manager states:
“Enquire is very pleased to promote the new rights for 12-15 year olds. Our hope is that they will further promote children having a real say in decisions about their own learning and support.
We know from our work with children and young people how important it is that they feel genuinely involved and listened to by the professionals supporting them and how much this can influence whether they feel school is a negative or positive experience.
The extension of childen’s rights provides an opportunity for professionals supporting children to reflect on their practice and consider whether they routinely listen to and involve children with additional support needs in the decisions that directly affect them.
We hope the capacity and wellbeing safeguards are carried out informally by professionals who really know a child well in line with the new guidance on this.
As part of the new partnership service to support children to exercise these new rights – My Rights, My Say – and through Reach, our website for children and young people, we are delighted to offer advice and information to children to help them understand and use their rights. We are also able to help parents, carers and professionals understand the new rights through the Enquire website and helpline.”
If you’re a parent or carer you can find information about your child’s rights here. You can find more information about children’s extended rights in our factsheet Children’s rights to education and additional support in school
If you are a professional you can find out about children’s extended rights in our briefing here.
Our website for chidlren and young people Reach has lots of information to help children inderstand their rights.
If you want to find out more about the children’s service My Rights, My Say you can contact them at help@myrightsmy say.scot or contact Enquire helpline on 0345 123 2303.